San Antonio, TX

[For today’s News Bit and the Running Totals, click here.]

San Antonio is a fast-growing city in south-central Texas with a population of 1.3 million people.  It is the county seat of Bexar County. Greater San Antonio has a population of over 2.2 million people.

In 2006, San Antonio Animal Care Services (ACS) had a live release rate of only 10%. At that time, the shelter put forth a strategic plan to achieve live release of all adoptable animals by 2012. The shelter failed to reach the goal, however, and in September of 2011 it put forth a new strategic plan in which it acknowledged that its live release rate was only 31%.

The 2011 strategic plan identified three elements as “critical” to achieving a high live release rate: (1) a strong licensing program, (2) spay/neuter partnerships, and (3) high-volume rescue partnerships. The report noted that San Antonio “has existing strong spay/neuter partnerships, and has simplified the licensing program within the past year.” As to the third element, the report stated that the city “is challenging the animal welfare community to take on an additional 6,000 animals annually from ACS shelters.”

There have been many changes since the 2011 plan was released. Early in 2012, the city announced that Austin Pets Alive!, which had been helping ACS, was ready to partner with the city of San Antonio through a new organization, San Antonio Pets Alive!. The San Antonio Humane Society took in over 2000 pets from ACS in 2012, as well as accepting animals directly from the public. Late in 2012, ACS welcomed a new director, Kathy Davis. The city announced an agreement with another non-profit, the Animal Defense League of Texas, which manages a 2.2 million dollar shelter built by the city. In 2013, San Antonio gave up handling animal control and sheltering for the unincorporated parts of Bexar County. The No Kill city of Kirby may partner with Bexar County to construct and manage a new shelter.

San Antonio recently announced that for the year 2014, ACS had an 84% live release rate. The shelter’s live release rate for cats is 92%, and only adult dogs are still under 90%. ACS has joined the Million Cat Challenge, and Davis said that San Antonio was proud to be a part of the Challenge as a city that had gotten to No Kill status for cats. If the current rate of improvement continues, San Antonio’s overall live release rate could go above 90% in 2015.

San Antonio is counted in the blog’s Running Totals as an 80-90% community.

Williamson County, TX

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The Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter (WCRAS), located in Texas just north of Austin, provides animal sheltering services for Williamson County (population 423,000) and all of the communities within the county except for Georgetown and Taylor. WCRAS has contracts with four of the communities: Round Rock (population 100,000), Cedar Park (population 54,000), Leander, (population 27,000), and Hutto (population 15,000). In addition to taking in strays picked up by animal control, the shelter accepts owner surrenders by appointment, with a small fee.

WCRAS provides links on its home page for its reports going back to 2008. WCRAS annual reports are some of the best I’ve seen. They clearly state what type of shelter WCRAS is and what it does, and the communities it serves. They go into detail about animal statistics, including statistics that are not usually reported such as length of stay. They have graphs comparing statistical categories going back several years, so you can see how the shelter has been doing over time. The reports also have lots of information about shelter finances.

WCRAS, like many No Kill organizations, has been struggling with an outdated shelter building. The county took steps in fiscal year 2013-2014 to determine the feasibility of remodeling and expanding the shelter.

For fiscal year 2013-2014, intake of all animals including wildlife was 6694. Dog and cat intake was 6478. The live release rate was 96% for dogs and cats. The modified live release rate, including animals who died or were lost in shelter care, was 93%. WCRAS did not report any owner-requested euthanasias. Foster care numbers were very high, with 1836 animals going into foster care during the fiscal year. Average length of stay at the shelter was 11.6 days for dogs and 14.6 days for cats.

The shelter’s yearly intake since 2007-2008 has ranged from a low of 6003 to a high of 7763. The shelter takes in about 19 animals per 1000 people per year. Donations to the shelter have gone up from $17,980.67 in 2007-2008 to $135,204.18 in 2013-2014. The live release rates for cats and dogs separately both went over 90% in fiscal year 2011-2012 and have remained there ever since. The modified live release rate for dogs has also been over 90% since 2011-2012. Fiscal year 2013-2014 was the first year that the modified live release rate for cats went over 90%.

Williamson County, Texas, was originally listed by this blog on April 15, 2013, based on its 2011-2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013-2014 statistics.

Georgetown, TX

Georgetown, Texas, is a city of 47,000 people in Williamson County just north of Austin. The Georgetown Animal Shelter is run by the city and provides animal control and sheltering services for people who reside within the city limits. The shelter’s website describes the shelter as “an open door shelter that accepts all dogs and cats found within the city limits or surrendered by owners that live within the city limits.” It does not mention any conditions for owner surrenders.

The city of Georgetown has announced that it achieved a 90% live release rate for its most recent fiscal year, from October 1, 2013, to September 30, 2014. The city noted that intake was 12% higher than in the previous fiscal year, at 1863 impounded animals. (That intake is high, at a rate of 40 per 1000 people.) Adoptions and returns-to-owner were also higher. The shelter manager said the shelter has been making increased efforts to find owners of strays and to work with owners to return pets to their homes.

In the three preceding fiscal years, the shelter reported live release rates of 81%, 85%, and 90%. In a 2012 interview, the shelter manager attributed the shelter’s live release rate to volunteers, a barn cat program, an initiative to have shelter staff train dogs as they are cared for each day, and adoption outreach.

Georgetown, TX, is counted in the Running Totals as a 90%+ community.

Kirby, TX

Kirby, Texas is a community of about 8,000 people in the San Antonio metro area. The city has a municipal agency, Kirby Animal Care Services, that handles animal control and sheltering for the city. The shelter describes itself as open intake and states that “no animal from our community in need is EVER turned away.”

The city hired Christie Banduch in June of 2011. Before Banduch was hired, the shelter had a live release rate of 4% (that’s not a typo). In an e-mail to me, Banduch described the challenges she faced when she took over as including workload (she was the sole employee at that time for a facility with an intake of up to 100 animals per month), location (the shelter was hard to find and did not show up on GPS), and sanitation (the shelter was filthy and there were no cleaning supplies, vaccines, or dewormers).

Banduch was able to turn things around right away, and statistics she sent me show that in her first full year running the shelter the live release rate shot up to 83%. In Banduch’s second year running the shelter (July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013) she reported a live release rate of 92%, with an intake of 839 animals. If animals who died or were lost in shelter care are included with euthanasias, the live release rate was 91%. The shelter has good relationships with rescues, who pulled 215 dogs and 240 cats during the fiscal year.

Banduch recently sent me uploadable statistics for calendar year 2013, which show an intake of 1040 cats and dogs, with a live release rate of 95%. There were no animals lost in shelter care in 2013. If animals who died are included with euthanasias, the live release rate is 94%. Here is a link to the 2013 statistics: Kirby TX 2013 statistics

Kirby, Texas, was originally listed by this blog on July 5, 2013, based on their 2012-2013 fiscal-year statistics. This post is a revision and update with calendar-year 2013 statistics.

Arlington, TX

[For today’s News Bit and the Running Totals, click here.]

Arlington, Texas is a city of 365,000 people that lies between Dallas and Fort Worth. The entire metro area has about 6.5 million people.

The city does animal control and has a municipal shelter called the Animal Services Center (ASC). I called the ASC to ask about their owner surrender policy and was told that they have no conditions for surrenders other than city residency. The Friends of Arlington Animal Services (FAAS) is a non-profit that is dedicated to helping raise the ASC’s live release rate. They recently reported on ASC statistics for 2014, and the shelter had an 81% live release rate with an intake of 8579 cats and dogs. This live release rate is up from 67% in 2013.

One big factor in the improvement has been the city’s new TNR program. On August 20, 2013, the city council adopted a resolution that provides for organizations in the city to work with ASC on a TNR program for community cats. The TNR number in the ASC statistics was zero up to August of 2013, but from there until the end of the year 457 cats were TNR’d. In 2014, 1055 cats received TNR. In 2013 the ASC live release rate for cats was only 52%. In 2014, the live release rate for cats increased more than 20 points for the year.

Arlington, TX, is counted in the Running Totals an an 80%+community.

Austin, TX

Austin is a city of 843,000 people located in the hill country of Texas. It is the capital of Texas and the county seat of Travis County, which has a total population of 1,024,000 people. The Austin Animal Center (AAC) is the municipal shelter for Austin and the unincorporated parts of Travis County. Field services are under the AAC Animal Services Department, although Travis County has an officer assigned to animal cruelty investigations.

AAC describes its admission policy for owner surrenders as follows: “The center is an open-intake shelter serving [] Austin and Travis County. We accept any animal from our jurisdiction that needs shelter regardless of age, health, species, breed or behavior, and no matter whether it is a stray or an owned animal.”  People who want to surrender an animal are asked to attempt to rehome it themselves first, and if that is unsuccessful to make an appointment.

Austin has a contractual public-private partnership with a private non-profit, Austin Pets Alive! (APA), which pulls a large number of animals from the city shelter. APA has a program called Positive Alternatives to Shelter Surrender to help people keep their pets or rehome their pets themselves. APA has a subsidiary, American Pets Alive!, that offers webinars and yearly conferences for shelter personnel and reform advocates.

The Austin Humane Society (AHS), a private non-profit, takes in some owner surrenders. AHS also has a large TNR program for feral cats which has served more than 30,000 cats since it was started in 2007.

In 2011 Austin became the largest city in the United States to report a 90% or greater live release rate, with AAC at a 91% live release rate for the year. APA collated the city shelter’s outcome reports for the fiscal year 2011-2012, and noted a 5% kill rate during that time.

In 2013, the ACC started posting detailed statistics on its website every month for cat and dog intakes and outcomes, with reports analyzing and comparing the statistics. For the entire year, ACC took in 17,921 dogs and cats, which is an intake of about 17 cats and dogs per 1000 people in the ACC service area. (This number would be higher if intake by APA and AHS were counted.) The live release rate for the year was 93%. The 93% figure is unchanged if the 93 animals who died in shelter care are included with euthanasias. AAC reported adopting out 7318 dogs and cats during the year and transferring 6272 dogs and cats to APA and to ACA’s rescue partners.

Austin, Texas, was originally listed by this blog on April 22, 2013, based on its 2012 statistics. This post is a revision and update with 2013 calendar year statistics.

Taylor, TX

The  city of Taylor, Texas, is located in Williamson County about 30 miles northeast of Austin. It has a population of about 15,000 people. Williamson County and Taylor are part of the Austin metro area.

Animal control and sheltering is provided for the city by a municipal agency, the Taylor Animal Shelter. A city official sent me the shelter’s 2012 statistics. Total intake was 315 animals, with 283 impounded by animal control and 11 owner surrenders. The live release rate was 93% for the calendar year. The shelter reports transferring 30 animals in 2012, who went to the Austin Humane Society. The shelter credits its success to “great community volunteers and staff, wonderful partnerships with other shelters and rescue groups and an outstanding community.”

Feral cats in Taylor receive TNR from the Shadow Cats organization, a non-profit rescue that is headquartered in nearby Round Rock. Shadow Cats returns ferals to their colonies after TNR or attempts to place them as barn cats if they cannot return to a colony. They also have a sanctuary where cats that are sick with chronic illness can live out their lives.

Taylor is located in an area that is very safe for shelter animals. Williamson County and the city of Austin both have live release rates over 90%. The city of Georgetown, which is located in Williamson County, has a live release rate of about 85%.

Taylor, TX, is counted in the Running Totals as a 90%+ community.

Rockwall, TX

The city of Rockwall is the county seat of Rockwall County, which is part of the Dallas metro area. The city has about 37,000 residents.

In 2011, a non-profit volunteer organization called Rockwall Pets was formed for the purpose of increasing the live release rate of the city shelter, which was at about 60%. Rockwall Pets brought the live release rate of the shelter up to well over 90%, but the city employees who managed the shelter were not completely on board with the effort.

The Rockwall city council voted in August 2012 to contract out the operation of the city shelter to the Collin County Humane Society (CCHS), a non-profit organization, and retain only animal control duties. The contract price was 15% less than the amount the city had paid to run the shelter previously. CCHS accepts owner surrenders from Rockwall and the city of Heath.

Rockwall Pets has posted statistics for the Rockwall shelter from 2008 through 2013. The live release rate for 2012 was 97%, with a total intake of 2086 animals. The shelter had a 70% adoption rate and 18% return-to-owner rate. In 2013, the first full year of operation under CCHS, the shelter reported a 96% live release rate. Total intake was 2189, with 14% of animals returned to their owners and 68% adopted. I am listing this community as 90% Reported because I was not able to locate or obtain a full listing of statistics online as required for the right sidebar.

Rockwall Pets has moved on to other initiatives in their area. Michael Kitkoski, one of the founders of Rockwall Pets, told me that they are now focusing on the cities of Royse, Rowlett, and Dallas.

Rockwall, TX, is counted in the Running Totals as a 90%+ community.

Pflugerville, TX

Pflugerville is a rapidly growing city in the Austin metro area. Its current population is 52,000, up from 16,000 in the year 2000. It is located north of Austin on the border of Travis and Williamson counties.

The city has its own animal control division and municipal animal shelter that are collectively known as Pflugerville Animal Control (PAC). Animals are spayed or neutered before adoption (subject to exceptions for the welfare of the animal) and microchipped. I spoke with the director of the shelter, Rhonda McLendon, and she told me that the shelter accepts any owner surrender from the city with no appointment required, no fee, and no waiting list.

McLendon mentioned two private organizations that have been especially helpful to the shelter, Pflugerville’s Pfurry Pfriends (PPP) and Pflugerville Pets Alive! (PPA!). Plugerville city ordinances prohibit feral cats being returned to colonies, so PPP partners with PAC to place ferals as barn cats. The cats are spayed or neutered and vaccinated. PPP donated outdoor runs for an exercise area at the shelter, and also supplies funds for heartworm treatments and complex surgeries. PPA! promotes the shelter’s pets, and has a popular Facebook page.

Early in 2013, The shelter renovated a building next to its facility to increase the number of cats who can be accommodated and to house an intake center and medical facility. The PPP website has photos of the shelter’s new Cat Adoption Center, which has cat condos. The city also purchased a vehicle to use for large adoption events and emergency management.

In March of 2013, the shelter’s director issued a press release noting that the shelter had a 97% live release rate in 2012. I contacted the shelter for the full statistics, and by the method I use for this blog the live release rate for 2012 was 98%. McLendon reported that PAC had a 47% reclaim rate in 2012 due in part to officers’ success at returning stray animals to their homes in the field, without bringing them to the shelter. McLendon told me that the 47% reclaim rate includes cats. When I asked how they managed to return so many cats, McLendon told me that officers will go door-to-door to try to find an animal’s home. Animals returned in the field are not counted as intake, so PAC actually served many more animals than the 982 who were impounded in 2012.

Pflugerville, TX, is counted in the Running Totals as a 90%+ community.

Seagoville, TX

Seagoville is a suburb of Dallas, Texas, and has about 15,000 inhabitants. The Seagoville Animal Shelter, a municipal shelter, handles animal control and sheltering for the city.

The shelter published its statistics for 2011 online, reporting a 97% live release rate. The shelter’s intake for 2011 was 568 cats and dogs. Most of the animals — 327 — left the shelter through adoption. The shelter transferred 192 cats and dogs to rescues and returned 47 to their owners. Twelve dogs and 3 cats were euthanized, and those euthanasias were for reportedly for illness, injury, or aggression.

The shelter director e-mailed me the statistics for 2012, and they show a 98% live release rate with an intake of 798 dogs and cats. There were 537 adoptions, 76 returned to owner, 124 sent to rescue, and TNR for 19 feral cats. There were no owner-requested euthanasias reported. The number of animals who died or were lost in shelter care was 12, and with that number included as part of euthanasias, the live release rate was 97%. This video describes how Seagoville was able to achieve its high live release rate.

In addition to taking in strays, the Seagoville shelter counsels owners to try to prevent surrender. The shelter accepts owner surrenders only if there is no alternative placement available.

Seagoville, TX, is counting in the Running Totals as a 90%+ community.